The National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD), says its research and development activities have redefined response of African traditional medicines to the COVID-19 pandemic.
NIPRD Director-General, Dr Obi Adigwe, made this known in a statement on Sunday, ahead of the forthcoming African Traditional Medicine Day commemoration, on August 31.
The theme for the 2020 commemoration is “Traditional Medicine: Research and Development.”
Obi said that NIPRD had pioneered science-led research and development aimed at mainstreaming African traditional medicines.
“As the world commemorates the African Traditional Medicine Day, this year’s theme could not have been better articulated, given its hitherto neglected potential for health and socioeconomic development for the continent.
“For a while now, NIPRD has pioneered science-led Research and Development aimed at mainstreaming African traditional medicines.
“The Institute also remains the first African institute to develop a world class phytomedicine from drug discovery up to phase2 clinical trials,” he said.
Adigwe stated that NIPRD possessed immense expertise and experience in research and development for African traditional medicines.
“NIPRD is the most resourced institute of its kind with over 70 experts aggregated around various aspects of phytomedicines’ development value chain.
“During the current pandemic, NIPRD has galvanised this significant expertise into making a huge contribution to the national and global response, and a significant proportion of this contribution is focused on African traditional medicines.
“The Institute provided the internationally acclaimed analysis that underpinned government’s categorical position on the Madagascar Covid Organics preparation.
“This analysis went viral internationally, with scientists and policymakers around the world referencing NIPRD’s seminal work on the product,” the DG stated.
He added that an interdisciplinary team of experts had been convened for verification of claims by traditional medicines practitioners in the country.
“For the first time in our country’s history, an interdisciplinary team of over 20 eminent and erudite professors drawn from various universities and geopolitical regions was convened.
“This team would form the National Scientific Advisory Committee (NSAC) on the verification of claims by traditional medicines practitioners.
“This landmark achievement not only ensures that COVID-19 cure claims are subjected to the highest international science, it also ensures that the highest relevant standards of safety and efficacy are maintained in order to safeguard the lives of Nigerians.
“The Institute’s activities in phytomedicines and related product development has also been brought to bear in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.
“For instance, NIPRD pioneered and strongly advocated indigenous manufacturing of hand sanitisers from locally sourced raw materials.
“Also, Niprimune, its flagship immune modulatory agent with very promising preclinical results, is now receiving strong international funding attention for relevant clinical studies for COVID-19,” he said.
He added that the institute has also commenced its nationwide training and capacity building for traditional medicine practitioners.
“This year, the activity has been decentralised to states and rural areas to ensure a robust and comprehensive engagement with governors, sub-national policymakers and regulators.
“This will mitigate identified challenges such as paucity of funds, limited information technology capacity and poor understanding of scientific, policy and regulatory processes,” he said.
Adigwe bemoaned the lack of adequate investment, funding and prioritisation of research and development in African traditional medicines.
He called for the involvement of philanthropists, foundations, development partners and other private sector actors to support research and development in the field.
He reiterated NIPRD’s commitment to continue fostering groundbreaking, evidence based methodologies and policies that would enable Nigeria, and indeed, Africa fulfil the inherent health and socioeconomic potentials associated with African traditional medicines.